Dead Birds is a 1965 documentary film by Robert Gardner about the Dani people of New Guinea. It was produced as part of the Harvard-Peabody Expedition to study the highlands of New Guinea, at that time one of the only remaining areas in the world uncolonized by Europeans. The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The film's title is borrowed from a Dani fable that Gardner recounts in voice-over. The Dani people, whom Gardner identifies mysteriously as "a mountain people," believe that there was once a great race between a bird and a snake, which was to determine the lives of human beings. Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds? The bird won the race, dictating that man must die. The film's plot revolves around two characters, Weyak and Pua. Weyak is a warrior who guards the frontier between the land of his tribe and that of the neighboring tribe. Pua is a young boy whom Gardner depicts as weak and inept.